Case Update: Allegations of Neglect at AZ Pound

After veterinarian Carol Burke filed a complaint with the city accusing the Bisbee Animal Shelter of “a pattern of criminal neglect” in August, city manager Steve Pauken asked the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office to investigate.  In September, Pauken was quoted as saying, “There is no imminent danger involved here.”

This week, KGUN9-TV has an update on the story:

[W]e found that there are a string of complaints dating back to 2005, when the Bisbee Police Department took over the shelter.

Among the worst of those complaints, improper euthanasia, which the City denies.

In addition, KGUN reports that the city recently lost a spay-neuter grant due to its failure to maintain communication and records. City manager Steve Pauken told the station he doesn’t believe there is any neglect occurring at the shelter.

But at the Bisbee City Council meeting on Tuesday, the council voted to move the shelter out from under the police department:

The control of the shelter is now in the city’s Community Development Department, which is overseen by the City Manager.

City manager Pauken told the council he didn’t think that was a good idea. After the council voted against his wishes, he quit. The sheriff’s office investigation is ongoing.

It remains to be seen if these developments will translate to any improvements for the animals at the Bisbee pound.  I would suggest that hinges on whether the next city manager considers the vet’s report of a pattern of criminal neglect to indicate any “imminent danger”.  If so, I imagine prompt action will be taken to reform the pound.  If not, it will be business as usual in Bisbee I guess.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

9 thoughts on “Case Update: Allegations of Neglect at AZ Pound

  1. Honestly.. did anyone think they would actually admit to doing anything at all improperly? As many pet killings as there are by the police in the news these days? Wake up you bunch of idiots! This is the police department trying to run an animal shelter . something they know nothing about and what they do know is shooting a dog or cat just for the hell of it. I call it “animal shooting range practice” .. These policemen have decided that if they can’t just go out an shoot people’s pets for practice, they’d just take over the county pound and have a multitude of practice animals! My 2 cents worth anyway.. Where they get off doing this in the first place is beyond me and how they get away with it is NOT beyond me. They can kill a person and still get away with it. Even if it’s done publicly with other officers around that had never drawn their weapons..and you all know what story I’m talking about. Shouldn’t have to tell you. This officer got arrested, but you KNOW that he’ll get away with killing this young professional sports player! Much less poor defenseless animals! Makes me sick to my stomach!!

  2. Guess I wouldn’t be impressed with this city manager anyway if he quits because he has to be responsible for the animal control/shelter. I suspect there is more going on behind the scenes than we know right now.

  3. I understand the concern 110%! We here in Canon City have started a group to rid ourselves of the so-called caring person of the local shelter. There is a site on Face Book called “Stop The Humane Society of Fremont County”. We know there have been countless murders of animals by the improper euthanization called “Heart Stick”. The(the shelter has even had volunteers perform this horrid act! They invariably miss, which of causes the animal to writhe in agony for a very long time. This is one among many violations.
    I lived in Benson, AZ. for over 20 years so I do know where you are, & I couldn’t be more sorry; for the animals & those of you who want to change this situation. We do not want to shut the shelter down! We just want a caring & compassionate group of people in there. Even the neutering of many, many animals has been done in such a medieval way that these dogs have gotten horrible infections. I wish you well for the sake of the animals & all that want to change this! My thoughts are with you! Debby Ledbetter, Canon City, CO.

  4. In the past 4 years there have been 3 City Managers/AC Directors who “quit” here in MidTN when the citizens and the commissioners voted to change the reporting structure for the AC Department! There is so much abuse, neglect, embezzlement, lying, and other crap happening in these AC Depts. In TN – the only thing that gets audited at an AC Shelter is the Euth Log and the Blue Juice log. Nothing else. No Kill’s info on Shelter Reform is invaluable. But the only way this stuff changes is with Citizens getting involved. Thank you Carol Burke and all the Vets and citizens like her!

  5. I’m curious … why *are* AC departments so prone to corruption? Is it because they’re low-hanging fruit? Thing is, with most of these places, I find it difficult to believe there would be all that much profit in it. Then again, perhaps a little looks like a lot, some places.

    1. While I am not directly answering your question, I think it’s worth noting that “profit” can mean different things to different people. We often think about pocketing wads of cash when discussing corruption but there’s also the idea of personal profit through cheating the system. IOW, if a person can avoid doing their job and spend their time doing something else while still being paid, that’s a form of personal profit. In some of the cases we’ve talked about on the blog, the paid shelter staff were definitely not doing their jobs while on the clock (e.g. the recent Lawrence, IN case). IDK what they do instead but obviously whatever it is does not qualify as sheltering animals.

      1. Good point. And now I’m wondering, how much of this is opportunistic, and how many took positions with ACs intending to take advantage of lax supervision? How many positions are filled as sinecures?

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